27 février 2004

The marketing of The Passion of the Christ


I've been hesitant to blog about The Passion of the Christ. Just too many people going way overboard on the anti-Semitic or not issue.

So let me first start by saying that that's not the angle I want to look at. I haven't seen the film yet, so there's not much I can say about it.

What I do want to blog about is about the way that the movie has been marketed.

1. Pre-screening to various groups is a good thing but to refuse that some groups (that had made noise about the risks posed by the movie) see it is not a good thing.
2. "Subcontracting" your marketing to groups or communities that'll do for you for free is a very good thing.

The first point is very much PR-oriented. If you want to look fair, a perception of openness is essential. Let's say I represent a development project (instead of a movie) and I invite the residents of the target neighborhood to view the plans for my development. I'll have the plans, the experts' reports, a small-scale model, a PowerPoint presentation, a buffet, the whole shebang.

Obviously, my objective is to get some buy-in from the residents and reduce the chances of having them complain.

Now, let's say I don't accept that those residents that seem likely to be critical see the plans. I'm talking people that seem likely to complain; maybe they have long hair, or tattoos, or whatever. What's going to happen?

It's going to exacerbate their criticism! And this is particularly true when there is reason to believe that the promoter (in this case, Mel Gibson) might have some kind of a bias.

The second point is more marketing-oriented. I've been thinking more and more about how communities of users are being used to back up marketing efforts. I hesitate to use the word "evangelists" but it does apply (in this case particularly). Other products or services or events can do the same.

The one thing that I'm finding distasteful is all of the merchandising that's been going on. I mean, I can understand that there's a CD (there's always a CD). But a coffee-top book, a t-shirt, the nail pendant, a mug... I don't know. Didn't Jesus try to kick people out of the temple for selling their products?

UPDATE: Not only can the products be found online, but the products' designer (I hesitate to use the word creator) sent out a press release touting his own horn.
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